No long climbs outside and struggling with motivation on to not lose fitness

I’ve been consistently training 10-14 hour weeks this year and have spent plenty of time on my trainer. I did 3x20 threshold about a week and a half ago (on the trainer) so I’m pretty confident with my FTP and know I should be able to do harder efforts inside. I set a #2 lifetime 1 min power PR chasing a KOM on Saturday (only #2 so gotta try again :sweat_smile:) so I don’t think I’m overly fatigued.

I’m in the northeast US and it’s prime riding time. I don’t have any major climbs near me, but most events I do involve driving a bit and include significant climbing. I’ve tried to get 1 or 2 harder workouts done per week inside on the trainer to stay comfortable with threshold/sweetspot. Over the past week or so I just can’t complete them. HR is where it should be, legs generally feel OK, but motivation on the trainer is non-existent.

They’ve talked on the podcast about how people can get slower over the summer when they stop being consistent with structured training so that’s my biggest fear at the moment! I’m a bigger rider so need to be comfortable at sweetspot/threshold when climbing.

What would you do in my situation? I could probably increase the Z2 volume a little outside but need to be mindful of family stuff. My wife would kill me if I was gone more than 15-16 hrs/wk :rofl: Is it worth trying to do some VO2 work (e.g. 4x5’) on the short climbs near me if I don’t have time to do a proper block (have several events in July)?

Any tips are appreciated!

1 Like

How long has it been since you took a break from the bike or even just a low volume easy rest week? When I’m feeling a little burnt out, a few days to a week off the bike always leaves me motivated to get after it.


Last rest week was 3 weeks ago (week of Monday June 3rd) and did ~5 hrs pretty easy that week. I haven’t taken a full mid-season break yet. Aiming for mid-July to do that since it’ll line up with a mini-vacation.

The thing is I don’t feel fatigued, HRV is climbing (for whatever thats worth), and I feel great on the bike outside. :thinking:

1 Like

I think this is probably just regular ol’ burnout and, as @Pbase is saying, you can take some time to rest on your laurels and enjoy just toodling around a bit. You may lose a miniscule bit of fitness for a week or so, but you’ll gain it back right away and would lose a lot more if you get burned out to the point where you don’t even feel like looking at the freaking bike for a while.

Haven’t you already done a few events so far this year, too? Are you still doing Vermont Gran Fondo? Nailing that, then chilling for a week or so would be a perfect time for a break. And honestly, when I get to this point, it helps to remind myself I’m not getting paid to do this, so any rise or fall in CTL/hours/whatever is really just noise.


Yup! VT Grand Fondo this coming weekend, then a local gravel event mid-July and Grateful Gravel at the end of July.

Maybe it’s all mental…there’s no way I’m getting up Lincoln Gap with anything less than a 25+ min low cadence sweetspot effort. I did 3x20 threshold on June 12th then couldn’t get through 20 mins of sweetspot last week. Definitely not discounting fatigue but I guess I would have expected to feel it outside too.

I should add too…totally planning to take it easy this week with a bit of a taper to the fondo on Sat.


For the past 3 years my “A” event is the “Diabolical Double” of the Garrett County Gran Fondo. It’s 125 miles and 16,000’. This year my outside training was completely different than the 2 previous years.

This year I did all my outside training on a relatively flat rails-to-trails route. The 2 previous years, my outside training was doing all the hills I could string together. I live in western Pennsylvania, so we have hills. However, they are of the shorter, maybe 7-8 minute max variety. But my “A” event has 30-40 minute climbs.

Like I said, this year I did all my outdoor training on a flattish rails-to-trails. It is 28 miles end-to-end. And I did it on a slower gravel bike instead of a road bike. And I used a big bar bag to make it slower still. By doing this, I could basically do unlimited tempo, sweetspot, and threshold efforts that more closely resemble the power profile for my “A” event, but without the actual climbing.

I was a little nervous that my lack of climbing this year may reveal itself in the event. And I guess it did to a certain extent. My triceps muscles hurt a bit this year. But it wasn’t major.

Anyway, without training hills at all, I had my best year yet for a 16,000 foot event. I came in 3rd for my 50-59 year age group, which I’m ecstatic about. I used TR and Adaptive Training for my 2 hard sessions each week, and did zone 2 and tempo the rest of the time.

Driving 25 minutes each way to get to a rails-to-trails to train on a slow gravel bike worked out well for me. Maybe you have access to something similar?


Technically I’m losing money to do this with event fees, bike stuff, etc :rofl::rofl::rofl::rofl:


That’s a great result!! That’s a good idea about the gravel bike too. I should throw some super slow tires on to help stretch out my shorter climbs.

1 Like

These events aren’t cheap!

1 Like

Frank, you’ll see a guy riding this bike in the VT Gran Fondo. I don’t know his name, but we rode together a little on the Diabolical Double this past weekend. He said he was doing the VT GF the very next weekend, which I thought was wild! I asked him how many miles he has in so far and he said 6,000!


Couldn’t he find a smaller cassette for the event? :rofl::rofl: I’m impressed!!

I am always faster over the winter due to structure adherence, but here’s the thing: it doesn’t matter.

The point of my winter training is to get me in good shape so that I can do the type of riding I really enjoy, mostly mountain biking, and have fun in the summer. I do events and I still want to have decent results so I still train in the summer, but my time is finite and way too valuable to me to spend it doing something I’m not enjoying at all.

Fun > fitness


I definitely remember when that was the DREAM BIKE! Pair it up with a Y frame mtb and you were this college kid’s dream!


Ha! That’s not his actual bike. It’s just a pic I found online. But the color is correct.

1 Like

Last year, first week of july I took swimming lessons and learned how to crawl (properly). Swimming properly is much harder than it looks - especially breathing when swimming. If this is something you’re at all interested in doing then I’d give it a try. Give cycling a pause and do something else for two weeks and then get back on the bike and see if motivation returns.

1 Like

Usually when I’m feeling low during the summer it’s because I was too consistent and pushed myself too hard in the winter and spring. It’s not overtraining necessarily, but definitely some kind of valley that needs to be recovered from.


You’re definitely on to something here! At the moment anyway, I can’t wait to ride outside but the idea of doing more work on the trainer is a real challenge.


That’s my guess….you’ve been putting in long weeks and are just a bit fried mentally. Fatigue is not always physical.

Take it easy this week (really easy) and see how the fondo goes. If you have a great day, that may be sufficient to get you engaged again. If not (regardless of performance), take some more down time.


Why do you need long climbs? I can train just fine on flat to rolling terrain.

Taking a short break from the turbore wont see you lose any fitness, in fact keeping mentally refreshed and motivated it’s more likely to make you fitter in the long run. Perhaps do outside if you want to keep training and don’t worry about no long climbs, the east of England (where I am currently) hasn’t got any but hitting what you have got faster and developing the power will stand you in good stead for when you do meet a good climb. Good Luck Frank